Tenniel's illustration of the Jabberwock, which came about in the early 1870's, has become a strong reference point for many examples of the beasts visual design for film, television and game. Films such as Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' (2010) also mimic the design completely, whereas the sci-fi television series 'Alice' (2009) only draws upon certain aspects of the original illustration. But what makes the design so successful?
|Jabberwock from Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' (2010)|
|Jabberwock from 'Alice' (2009)|
|Tenniel's original illustration of the Jabberwock|
Below I have gathered several lines from Carroll's poem that best describe the Jabberwock and what kind of creature it is:
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgabe. (1-4)
The first four lines of the poem describe the setting the Jabberwock resides in. It denotes some form of rural area, either woodlands or a forest. This suggests that the Jabberwock is some for of forest creature. As such Tenniel depicts the Jabberwock in a dark and dense forest.
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! (6)
This line denotes some of the Jabberwocks beastly features. If the Jabberwock is some form of man eating creature and its claws can 'catch' its prey they would need to be large enough to hold a person. The 'jaws that bite' refer to the Jabberwocks large teeth and combined with the claws make for a somewhat vicious looking appearance. Tenniel's Jabberwock has both large claws and teeth cable of grasping a person with ease.
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came! (14-16)
Further description of the Jabberwock. Here the Jabberwock is said to have 'eyes of flame' suggesting the eye colour to be red or orange in hue. The adds to the concept of a deadly beast and also suggests at the Jabberwocks anger and viciousness. Tenniel depicts his Jabberwock with with a vicious expression.
Again there is mention of a wood as being the Jabberwocks home.
The word 'whiffling' denotes the Jabberwocks erratic movements again adding to the idea that this beast is deadly. Tenniel depicts the Jabberwock as a large beast with long limbs and wings that would allow it to move with ease despite it living in a dense forest.
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back. (19-20)
These two lines depict the death of the Jabberwock. '...with its head...' suggests that the Jabberwock has a vulnerable area; its neck. As Tenniel depicts it, the Jabberwock has a long neck which draws upon this idea of vulnerability around this area.